Caroline Buisson

Corporate Strategy Development, Australia Post2014 Melbourne Fellowship

Caroline Buisson Melb FP 2014 resized

Authentic leadership is the key to making sustainable paradigms

What was the most valuable thing you got out of CSL?

I feel better aligned with myself, my aspirations and my day to day life

Why are you passionate about sustainability? What was the moment or event that made you decide to become a 'change maker' in your field?

I was born in France and ever since I was a teenager, I have felt the urge to travel and discover the richness and diversity of other territories, landscapes, and cultures. I lived and worked in South America and India, before settling down in Paris in 2008, where I worked as a strategy consultant. Working a lot and experiencing the ultimate urban lifestyle, I was initially happy to be challenged and stimulated. I had always tried to carefully chose the industries I would work for: water, healthcare, government services. I specialised in regulated industries as I think they lay at the core of everyone primary needs. Even so, I came to question the meaning of my life: how sustainable is it to work that much? For what result? What if we were to put the same level of energy to solve bigger problems, such as climate change? What impact do I have on the world? After these five hyperactive years in Paris, I felt the urge to break the cycle and hit the road. My partner and I relocated to Melbourne in 2012, eager to slow down, experience the world’s most liveable city and encounter Australian nature. During my first year here, I studied environment at the University of Melbourne and I had the chance to attend Samuel Alexander's course about Consumerism and Sustainability. Sam's course was life changing. All of a sudden, had reached a shift of consciousness and awareness and it became inevitable that I would continue down that path. I was extremely happy to have organised for Sam come to one of our CSL workshop this year, and talk to us about voluntary simplicity. When I look at the world around me and when I reflect on my experiences and the fulfilment I have got from immersing myself in different cultural and natural environments, I see the need to redefine what we call wealth and happiness. We need to evolve towards new paradigms based on equality of all species and intrinsic value of human and non-human lives. According to these paradigms, wealth means diversity of species, gender, ideas, and cultures. We value natural ecosystems and we collaborate fairly with other species. We recognise collective intelligence, and we are driven by a sense of stewardship of the world we live in. Therefore, waste does not exist. I see promoting these paradigms as my purpose in life. I am very aware that I am only one small component of a broader complex system and I enjoy working out the most impactful way to influence it. I want to continue collaborate with influential leaders, expand my circle of influence and use the need for change as a platform to create positive emotional, social and environmental impacts.

Why is leadership for sustainability important?

To create positive change, it is critical to walk the talk and inspire others by your individual actions. Authentic leadership is the key to make sustainable paradigms a valid option for everyone.

What do you plan to do next on your sustainability journey?

We live at a time of constant change driven by digitisation and globalisation, creating space for new powers to rise. As individuals, we have never been more powerful, influential and connected. Traditional businesses have started understanding how deeply they need to evolve: enhancing user experience by smart design, manage their reputation, retain the trust of their stakeholders. I believe this situation creates unique opportunities to influence large organisations to redesign their strategies and embed more sustainable paradigms, i.e. that have positive emotional, social and environmental impact. I am particularly interested in developing strategies that take into account a circular economy approach, valuing nature and promoting biodiversity. As big companies realise they evolve in a complex environment, they need to open up, collaborate and create partnerships to bring in innovation and creativity. I am very interested in using these approaches towards sustainable outcomes.

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